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April 23, 2012

Chavez's prolonged absence causing jitters in Venezuela

UPDATE: Chavez broke more than a week and a half of silence yesterday and called in from Havana. He said he could be back in Venezuela as soon as Thursday.


Anytime Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez stays out of the limelight for a few days the rumors begin flying. In Cuba receiving radiation therapy for an undisclosed form of cancer, Chavez hasn't made one of his usual TV or radio appearances in more than five days. Here's an AP story about it.

While his Twitter account is being updated, the rumors on social networks and the web have him in critical condition. His lieutenants have been trying to squelch the rumors and have said he's engaged, active and working as he goes through the treatment.

Over the weekend, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said Chavez will be returning to Venezuela this week. With elections looming Oct 7, the charismatic Chavez needs to start pressing the flesh to keep his campaign on track. His rival, Henrique Capriles, has mocked him for trying to govern via Twitter.

"These bitter people never learn," Cabello said. "They've spent days saying that the Commander is dead. The only one who doesn't have a life is [Capriles]."

April 12, 2012

Which heads of state are flying commercial to the Summit of the Americas?

Of the 33 heads of state traveling to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas only four are flying commercial. Here’s the list provided by the summit press office:

Kamla Persad of Trinidad and Tobago and Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica will be flying COPA. Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and Deputy Prime Minister T. Brent Symonette of the Bahamas will be arriving on Avianca.

The presidents of Belize, Granada, Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St Vincent are all hitching a ride on the same Colombian Air Force flight.

The remaining 22 heads of state will be arriving in style, on private planes. Air Force One, carrying President Barack Obama, is scheduled to touch down tomorrow at 4:45 pm. 

April 02, 2012

Venezuela: losing homes in the name of housing

CARACAS Like many Venezuelans, Calogero Alotto was sympathetic to the estimated 30,000 families left homeless by flooding during 2010 and 2011. When government officials told him they needed his small parking lot and mechanic shop to build housing for the refugees, he accepted it as a patriotic duty.

But 15 months later, the housing has yet to materialize and Alotto is still waiting to get paid.

“I worked for 42 hard years to build my business and it didn’t count for anything,” said Alotto, 57. “I’ve been left without property and without a job. I’ve had to sell two trucks just to keep surviving.”

As President Hugo Chávez, 57, heads into a tight presidential race, housing is at the center of his campaign. The government says it will plow $16 billion into building 200,000 homes this year under a program called The Great Housing Mission. The initiative is popular in this oil-rich nation, where many still live in wooden and tin shacks. And Chávez has said it’s key to his “Socialist Revolution” that aims to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Read the full story here.


jim wyss

Inside South America is written by Jim Wyss, the South America bureau chief for the Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers.

Feel free to send a story suggestion. Read Jim's stories at MiamiHerald.com.

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